Alexander Zverev was just at a loss. “I don’t know what I should have done differently today,” said Zverev after his semi-final defeat at the tennis tournament in Halle, Westphalia.

The Olympic champion lost to Kazakh Alexander Bublik 3:6, 5:7 and has to wait for his first title in the German grass classic. In 2016 and 2017 Zverev lost in the final in Halle, but this time he was far from it.

Bublik, who played almost flawlessly, converted his first match point after 1:27 hours. “He just played incredibly well,” said Zverev. For the native of Hamburg, however, it was good preparation for Wimbledon. The third Grand Slam tournament of the season begins on July 3rd. “I’m very happy with the level I’m playing at the moment.”

Kazakh too strong for Zverev

From the start, Zverev had major problems finding his rhythm in the almost sold-out OWL Arena. Bublik served impressively strong and served seven aces in the first set. In the end there were 14. In addition, the Kazakh repeatedly lured Zverev, who was often a little further behind the baseline, to the net with perfectly played stops, in order to then pass him or score points with a lob.

“It’s a bit like a coin toss for him which foot he gets up with. He can get up tomorrow and serve over 30 aces. But he can also serve 20 double faults,” Zverev had said in advance about his opponent. Unfortunately, from the German’s point of view, Bublik got off on the right foot and had a great day. To make it 3-1, he took the serve from Zverev and got the first round after 35 minutes. “The way I lost my serve in the first set is the only thing I can really blame myself for,” said Zverev.

He remained surprisingly calm after losing his first set of the tournament. The 26-year-old improved in the second set and tried to fight his way into the game. When the score was 3:2, the crowd favorite earned his first ever breakball, but Bublik fended it off in a spectacular way. Instead, the Kazakh made the decisive break to make it 6:5 and ultimately deservedly made it into the final. There it is either against the Russian Andrei Rublev or Roberto Bautista Agut from Spain. “The job isn’t done yet. I’m trying to stay focused. But of course I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Bublik.